Preview: Sporting Lisbon vs. Benfica

Preview: Sporting Lisbon vs. Benfica

The Estadio Jose Alvalade plays host to a high-profile clash in the Portuguese Primeira Liga as Sporting Lisbon and Benfica go head to head on Sunday.

While the hosts could pick up a sixth league victory on the bounce, As Aguias head into the game fresh off the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool in the Champions League and will be seeking to build on that performance.

Hoping for Porto to eventually slip up at the top of the table, Sporting Lisbon kept their slender hopes of a title defence alive when they cruised to a 3-1 victory at Tondela last weekend.

After Goncalo Inacio opened the scoring in the 29th minute, in-form forward Pablo Sarabia struck twice to put the reigning champions three goals up before Spanish defender Manu grabbed a 71st-minute consolation.

Ruben Amorim’s men have now won each of their last four outings, scoring 10 goals and conceding just twice since playing out a goalless draw with Manchester City in the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash on March 9.

Sporting Lisbon are also unbeaten in 10 Primeira Liga games on the bounce, picking up eight wins and two draws since a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Braga when the sides met back in January.

The Leoes have now won 23, drawn four and lost two of their 29 games this season to collect 73 points and sit second in the league standings, six points off league leaders Porto and nine above Sunday’s visitors.

With the second leg of their Taca de Portugal semi-final tie versus Porto coming up next Thursday, victory this weekend will undoubtedly serve as a morale booster as they look to overturn their deficit following a 2-1 defeat in the first leg on March 2.

Elsewhere, Benfica bowed out of the Champions League in style as they turned in a performance of the highest quality at Anfield where they held a rampant Liverpool side to a 3-3 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final clash last Wednesday.

After Ibrahima Konate and Goncalo Ramos scored for either side to end the first half all square, Roberto Firmino struck twice to hand the Reds a 3-1 lead in the 65th minute, but Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez scored in the final 17 minutes to force a share of the spoils.

Benfica now turn their attention to the Primeira Liga where they returned to winning ways in style as they came from behind to claim a 3-1 victory over rock-bottom Belenenses last Saturday.

In that encounter, Afonso Sousa broke the deadlock to put O Belem ahead inside the opening three minutes at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica but Nunez took matters into his own hands as he hit a hat-trick to turn the game on its head.

Prior to that, Nelson Verissimo’s men fell to a somewhat disappointing 3-2 loss away to Braga on April 1 which saw their run of seven consecutive games without defeat come to an end.

Benfica will be seeking to get one over the hosts having already lost to to them twice this season — the first in December’s reverse fixture when they were beaten 3-1, and the second coming in the Taca da Liga final on January 29, when the Leoes came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory.

Sporting Lisbon Primeira Liga form:
Sporting Lisbon form (all competitions):
Benfica Primeira Liga form:
Benfica form (all competitions):

We say: Sporting Lisbon 2-1 Benfica
This weekend’s game sees two of the biggest sides in Portuguese football go head to head and we can expect an exciting contest filled with plenty of goalmouth action. While Benfica are perfectly capable of coming away with all three points, Sporting Lisbon head into the game in especially good form of late and we predict they will cancel out the efforts of the visitors and come out victorious.

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